Killer Legends: Documentary Explores Real Horrors Behind Urban Legends

Hook man killing teenagers on lover’s lane? Razor blades in Halloween candy? Killer Legends exposes the gruesome real-life details behind popular urban legends.
Killer Legends documentary explores the horrifying true stories behind popular urban legends.

A while back we decided to play Netflix roulette here at Cult of Weird HQ, taking a chance on some random low-budget horror documentary with an cool thumbnail of an abandoned building. The film was called Cropsey, which turned out to be a fascinating look at a legendary New York boogeyman that came alive when a man named Andre Rand began kidnapping children on Staten Island.

For his followup, filmmaker Joshua Zeman, along with researcher Rachel Mills, embarked on a quest to hunt down the origins of other bizarre urban legends that have somehow managed to crawl in the dark crevices of the American collective unconscious and fester there.

Like the previous film, Killer Legends was much more interesting than I anticipated.

To unearth the true stories which may have inspired a handful of prolific urban legends, Zeman and Mills set out to track down the gruesome details of several brutal murders…often leading them right to the scene of the crime.

The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs

A man calls and harasses a babysitter, until she eventually discovers he is inside the house. In Columbia, Missouri, the crew investigates the case of Janett Christman, a 13-year-old babysitter who was attacked and strangled with the cord of an iron in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Romack, while their son Greg was asleep in his bed with the radio on. Though someone was quickly arrested and tried for murder, evidence suggests a friend of the family may actually have been the killer.

The Town that Dreaded Sundown

In the legend of the hookman, teenagers parked on lover’s lane are gored by a man with a hook for a hand. Zeman and Mills follow this story to Texarkana, where the unsolved Moonlight Murders inspired the 1976 slasher film The Town That Dreaded Sundown.

Check Your Halloween Candy

Parents have been examining Halloween candy for razor blades, pins and other evidence of tampering for decades. However, there doesn’t seem to be any actual recorded cases of this…ever. But that didn’t stop Texas man Ronald Clark O’Bryan, now known as the Candyman, from using the legend as a cover to poison his own son’s candy with cyanide to collect the insurance payments.

Killer Clowns

No, clowns don’t kill people. But Chicago does seem to have a weird and creepy history of clowns, which may provide plenty of reasons to fear the wigs, greasepaint and floppy shoes:

  • Showmen’s Rest in Woodlawn Cemetery, a mass grave of clowns and other circus performers killed in a 1918 train crash.
  • Serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who often performed as his alter ego Pogo the Clown, buried the remains of 26 boys in the crawlspace beneath his house.
  • There have been numerous sightings throughout the years of clowns in plain white vans stalking children around the city.
  • The television studio of Bozo the Clown still exist somewhere within WGN…and it’s supposedly haunted

Is this where our fear of clowns comes from?

These disturbing and often blood-filled cautionary tales have haunted childhoods for generations. With Killer Legends, Zeman expertly weaves together reports of real-life tragedies with the myths they spawned to put names, faces and locations to our nightmares.

Watch it on Netflix right now or grab the DVD here.

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8 years ago

Recently in Indianapolis they had clowns up hearing in parks and other public places. They had to issue a statement asking people to stop doing that.

8 years ago

it certainly makes watching ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’ and its follow-up much, much more interesting!

8 years ago

The cases were interesting. The presentation was lackluster. My husband and I watched it a few nights ago and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the trusty side kick screaming on their way to each creepy scene of the attack, inexplicably visited in the middle of the night when their cameras can’t actually see anything. I was particularly amused by them literally wandering through people’s backyards in the middle of the night in Texarkana and waiting to see that questionable decision bite ’em in the rear.